Lockdown has been tough for all and that includes martial art fanatics. There is no better feeling than pushing through an intense workout in your favourite gym, dojo or arena. For the time being though you will have to make do with at-home workouts and a throwing dummy will prove invaluable. However, the best grappling dummies are expensive. Fear not, you can easily make one yourself using everyday items lying around your house.
What is a throwing dummy?
Before we explore how to make a throwing dummy, we should first get it straight in our minds exactly what one is so we know what we’re trying to achieve.
A throwing dummy, otherwise known as a grappling dummy, is a heavy bag (often shaped like a human with movable arms and legs) used to practise your wrestling and grappling moves.
You will find grappling dummies with a range of different features and in a number of different shapes and sizes.
Bigger dummies replicate adult opponents and smaller ones replicate a younger fighter. Attached legs and arms allow you to practise more thoroughly and perfect your throws, hooks and locks from the comfort of your own home (providing you have the training space!).
Typical adult grappling dummies weight around 80 – 100lbs and youth versions will weigh approximately 50lbs.
How to Make Your Own Grappling Dummy
If you don’t have the money to buy a manufactured grappling dummy, do not worry. You can make one yourself using everyday materials that you likely have lying around your house right now.
What You Will Need
You will need at least:
- 1 x Gi Top
- 2 x Towels
- 1 x Pillows
- 1 x Teddy Bear (or Additional Pillow)
- 1 x Zip Up Hoodie
- 1 x Belt
If you have extras of any of the above, they will come in handy.
What To Do
- First open the gi top and place the open (unzipped) hoodie on top of it.
- Roll both the towels and put them inside the arms of the hoodie (as if someones arms are in the hoodie now).
- Place the pillow in the middle of the hoodie.
- Place the teddy or other pillow in the upper half of the hoodie.
- Zip up the hoodie so the teddy bear or the second pillow is sticking out the top as your head would be if wearing it.
- Pull the hood over the head of the teddy bear or the second pillow.
- Tie the belt round the middle of the gi to keep everything secure inside it.
You now have your very own grappling dummy!
If you are buying all of these materials from scratch, it should set you back about $60 all in. A small price to pay compared to the prices of professionally made grappling dummies (easily $100+).
Benefits of a DIY Grappling Dummy
The benefits of a home made/do-it-yourself (DIY) grappling dummy are obvious to experienced fighters. They are much the same as a professionally made dummy.
- Having your own grappling dummy at home allows you to train your wrestling, grappling, throws, armbars, leg locks and choke holds as and when you please.
- The variety of moves you can practise is many and you will find the practise translates to a direct improvement on the mat against a real sparring partner.
- The reduced cost is of course another key benefit.
- Providing you have all the materials in your home already, you could have your own grappling partner ready within minutes! This could keep you entertained for hours and keep your grappling skills sharp.
Rener Gracie originally shared these tips on his Instagram and, if the pros are using grappling dummies (in some cases home made ones) to take their fighting skills to the next level, you can be confident that one will be useful for you also.
Negatives of a DIY Grappling Dummy
Some hear the lower price for a DIY grappling dummy and make up their mind, there are making one and forgoing a throwing dummy from a premium brand.
However, this isn’t always the right choice.
Below we will touch on some of the disadvantages of a throwing dummy built by you as opposed to one ordered online or bought in store.
- It might come apart mid-training session or move. As the filling is secured only by a belt, it is highly likely that at some point the dummy will come apart (perhaps mid training session or move).
- It isn’t that much cheaper if you don’t have the materials lying around already.
- Your grappling dummy wont have a lower half/legs so your training sessions will be limited.
- Your grappling dummy won’t be as heavy as manufactured dummies as it will contain less and lighter filling.
- Your dummy won’t have makeshift ankle or wrist joints (some higher-end grappling dummies come with such features).
As you can see there are a few drawbacks to making your own grappling dummy.
It will be up to you to decide on if these are enough to convince you to order one from a respected MMA brand instead.
Can I Make a More Advanced Grappling Dummy Myself?
Yes, it is possible.
You can, with the right tools and materials, create your own advanced grappling dummy which has a lower half/legs.
What You Will Need
You will need a few more materials than the simpler version above, and you likely won’t have all of these lying around your house.
- PVC Pipes
- PVC Joints
- PVC Elbows
- Thick Cable
- A Saw
- Loose Fabric
For grip training you will also want to buy a cheap gi to dress your finished dummy in.
What To Do
- First ask a friend or family member to draw an outline of your body on the fabric. Mark where your joints (elbow, knees, wrists etc.) are.
- Measure the length of each body part section (e.g. the total length of the arms from one end to the other – as if you were measuring finger tip to finger tip, length of the legs, length of the body/spine).
- Using the above measurements, cut the cable in to the three sections.
- Now measure your own body parts and cut the pipes to try and replicate your own skeleton (this will be very rough and that is okay).
- You will use the joint parts where your bodies joints are (e.g. elbows, shoulders, knees etc.).
- Lay out the pipes in the shape of your body and drill holes in each piece that you will be able to thread the rope for to hold it all together.
- Cut 11 pieces of rope (approx. 30cm each).
- Thread the pieces of rope you cut through the holes you drilled.
- Pass the cables through the pipes.
- Tape the elbows and joints.
- Secure/tape your pillows round the body parts to start getting the shape of your dummy.
- Wrap each body part (including pillow) with duct tape.
- Dress your grappling dummy in the gi you bought earlier.
The finished result will closely resemble an actual grappling dummy from some of the premium brands.
However, it won’t be as clean and sleek and there will always be the risk it comes apart and or breaks. On the plus side, you will know how to easily fix or replace the parts!
In general I think the advanced DIY throwing dummy is less of a good option.
They take significantly longer to build, require a lot of effort, need more materials and tools to construct and still don’t match the level of quality offered by professionally made dummies.
To summarize it is completely possible to make your own grappling dummy and the finished result won’t be half bad.
Such dummies are cheaper than professionally made ones however you have to acknowledge that they won’t be as polished as brand name ones.
Drop any questions in the comments or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve found yourself with an actual dummy skin but aren’t sure what to fill it with, check out our guide on how to fill a grappling dummy.